I don’t know what I expected as I packed my bags and headed to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, but I can tell you this. Everything was much more than I expected. Much bigger, much grander, and much more of the holiday spirit than I could ever have imagined.
For years, I have heard about ICE, the production that the Gaylord Opryland puts on (and for that matter the other hotels in the Opryland chain) but I hadn’t ever made it to Nashville to experience it for myself.
On Black Friday, I was lucky enough to head down the road two hours with my mom and my boys for our Nashville adventure.
Upon arrival, it was immediately evident that every detail was carefully planned, even down to the Christmas tree decorations in the revolving doors.
I have always said that holiday lights can make even the grandest place seem grander. The Gaylord Opryland was certainly one of those places. Just past the lobby where guests are greeted, rooms are assigned and bags are escorted to rooms is a spot that makes you take pause and take in your surroundings.
Seriously. Even my kids stopped and said ‘wow, look at all of the lights, mom.’
We were just there for one night so there was a lot to take see and do. There are some things that I should tell you. The resort is large, as in over 2,000 rooms, so you can imagine just how very crowded the resort can get.
Our room was an atrium balcony room, which meant that we had a room with a balcony that overlooked all of the lights and activity below us. My kids were totally enamored with the fact that the balcony giving us views of the breathtaking room that we entered just after check in.
We hurried for dinner at one of the many restaurants on the property. The Gaylord Opryland has several levels of dining options from casual to reservation needed. We opted for simple, due to our time constraints and well because we had kids with us.
The restaurants were very, very crowded and we didn’t have a tremendous amount of time on our hands so we opted for Stax burger restaurant. I collected the orders from my mom and the boys and waited for our order to be ready. It took roughly 30 minutes to get our order and head out with the food to my wiggly boys and frazzled momma.
I completely and totally understand that restaurants get backed up and I am not attempting to discourage you from eating on site at the Gaylord.
May I suggest, making reservations if you are on a time crunch so that you can avoid nervously looking at your watch the entire time that you are waiting for your food/eating?
We were fortunate enough to have tickets to the production of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It was fantastic! The costumes and set were as if the pages of the classic book came to life and the casting was totally spot on. The play lasted for 90 minutes, my 7-year-old was captivated the entire time, my 5-year-old was enjoying himself but he ended up falling asleep halfway through.
If you can make the time to see the performance, I very highly recommend it! You can reserve tickets here.
Family Vacations U.S Tip – The Gaylord Opryland provides complimentary bus service from the hotel to the Grand Ole Opry building. The Grand Ole Opry building is adjacent to the Opry Mills Mall where they have shopping and dining. So if you wanted to get off the property to eat without having to move your car, this is an easy way to do it. Plus, my kids loved riding the bus!
Quite possibly the crown jewel of the Christmas experience at the Gaylord Opryland, is the ICE event. The exhibit features over 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, this year the ice depicted scenes from Ruldolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
The room is a chilly 9 degrees, each visitor is given a very heavy, very warm blue jacket before walking around the exhibit. One thing that I wish that I had taken with me is gloves and a scarf. The jackets didn’t have pockets so I had my hands tucked up into the sleeves and while the jacket had a hood, my nose quickly got very cold.
In addition to the sculptures, you also have the opportunity to ride an ice slide, which was a fun experience. It is a lot of fun to slide on the ice when you are prepared for it, rather than falling and sliding on the ice while walking to your car!
Family Vacations U.S Tip: I would suggest attempting to arrive at ICE right as the doors open. We got in line about 11 am (the doors open at 10) and waited for a good bit and the area was already quite crowded. Or if you could swing a weekday visit, chances are the crowds would be even lighter.
There are other options for you to enjoy while visiting ICE, like outdoor ice skating, a snowball toss or snow tubing. These are available for an additional fee.
Elf Scavenger Hunt
The activity that both of my kids keep talking about was the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt around the hotel. The scavenger hunt took you all over the hotel looking for the famed little guy. We got an early start and had the hotel virtually to ourselves. My kids loved reading the clues and working the puzzles and I have to admit that I am quite sure I enjoyed myself just as much as they did.
I was partial to the scavenger hunt because it allowed me to truly take in the beauty of the hotel because I was seeing so much of it all at once. We walked a TON, my step tracker had us at 9,000 steps before 10 am!
The hotel was fantastic and the holiday decorations added to the festive mood and I enjoyed getting into the holiday season with my kids.
However, I would likely attempt to visit when ICE first opens. Simply because my children are smaller and I had to keep a very close eye on them while we were there. I think that there would have been less stress on my part and more enjoyment (if that is possible) on theirs if I had been able to give them just a bit more freedom.
Tell me, have you visited the Gaylord Opryland Resort at Christmastime before?